Women in Engineering, Interview with Genemala Haobijam, Senior Development Manager at Samsung Research Institute Noida

20131204_155033Dr. Genemala Haobijam is currently working as Senior Development Manager at Samsung Research Institue Noida. She holds a Ph.D. in Electronics and Communication Engineering, a M.Tech. degree in Microelectronics and VLSI Design and a B.E. degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering. Her career journey in Engineering has been challenging. She was born and brought up in Imphal, Manipur State, India. Imphal was a small town and there was no Engineering college at the time when she finished her secondary schooling. She has served as Assistant Professor and taught courses in Analog/Digital Circuits and System Design. Her area of research and teaching interest focuses on analysis and design of Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits and Analog & Mixed Signal Circuits. She shares her engineering career journey with us…

Sarah Worsham: What type of research are you currently working on at Samsung?

Genemala Haobijam:  Currently my research focus on smartphone system design.

Sarah: Have you seen any real-world impact from your research?

Genemala: My PhD work has made a small contribution and I have been able to publish too in referred journals. Also, I have published a book “Design and Analysis of Spiral Inductors” in 2014. I am working hard towards making more contributions and seeing more impact in circuit design.

Sarah: In your entire career, what’s been your favorite job or project and why?

Genemala: My Ph.D. project has been my favourite. I proposed a new design methodology of integrated inductors and also implemented it in a voltage controlled oscillators. I won the first prize in Design Contest of 22nd International Conference on VLSI Design. I have published several papers in peer reviewed international journals and conferences and finally a book. I did not dream of the book, so I am happy about it always. I enjoyed my academic position at Indian Institute of Technology Mandi too. I was awarded twice and given recognition for my teaching.

Sarah: Was there a particular event or moment when you decided to pursue a career in STEM?

Genemala: I did not have any such particular moment. As I mentioned, I was born in a small town and in those days, every bright student knew only about Medicine, Engineering or Civil servant as a rewarding career. We had just 1 medical College in my hometown then and medicine was more preferred by everyone and hence competitive. There was no Engineering college. Hardly anyone used to have passion for research in Science or Mathematics. For me, I studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths in secondary, so I had the privilege to apply for both Medicine and Engineering. My parents wanted me to pursue Medicine. I did not get selected for Medicine, but fortunately, I was nominated by Manipur State Government for Bachelor in Engineering and hence sent to SSGMCE Shegaon Maharashtra, India. Since we did not have Engineering College, the State Government used to nominate through entrance exam and send students to selected colleges in other parts of the country.

Sarah: What has been most important in terms of getting where you are today?

Genemala: Hard work, honesty, sincerity and self confidence has been very important. Friends and families helped me stay focussed. My whole journey of my career is very special for me and it would not have been possible without my family support. Healthy competition with my friends also accelerated my career growth.

Sarah: Did you have any mentors or role models growing up that led you to this career? How did they influence you?

Genemala: I did not know anyone personally who excels in this career to whom I could ask for advice. My family, friends and the teachers in the Institute are the ones whom I turn to when I need discussion. I was very unsure of what to do after my Bachelors as we do not have any industry in my hometown. There was option to apply for a job in the Telecommunication Department of the Government, but I decided to continue with my studies. It is my family and friends that have helped me to be what I am today. On the other hand, I used to look up to profiles of renowned researchers, book authors in my area and their profiles helped me set my goals.

Sarah: Have you ever had any difficulties in your career due to your gender? How did you handle them?

Genemala: I didn’t try to let this deter me at any time. Imphal, where I grew up is a place where women are highly respected. So, I was not aware of any difficulty that my gender faces in STEM careers. But down the journey I realised and felt how people’s outlooks differed from mine. Today I am very thankful to almighty that I was born in Imphal as families there do not decide career based on gender. The ratio of male to female in classes during Bachelors and Masters were never good. I was even the first female Ph.D. student in Electronics and Communication Engineering Department at Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. I am thankful to the good friends I had there, because of which I did not have many difficulties. In fact, it made me bolder and stronger as I felt I had to prove myself. Women friends, although few, at every stage of my career were also paragon ladies and I think we all inspired each other to prove ourselves.

Sarah: What advice do you have to anyone interested in a similar career?

Genemala: A career like mine, is enjoyable and rewarding, and it’s great for girls. Today, technology has advanced so much and all information we need is available at few mouse clicks. So, one must find out the right career of choice in which one can excel and whatever one choose, just do the best you can.

Sarah: In your opinion, how can we get more girls interested in STEM careers?

Genemala: I think the solution to this is to motivate and make every girl, while in school, believe that STEM has nothing less to offer for girls than for boys and that women can do equally well in STEM. For every girl, it is the family members or parents who first talks about her career. There are many parents who makes the girl believe very early that women do not perform well in STEM or with a career in STEM she might not be able to perform all her responsibilities as a mother. I think we should spread awareness amongst parents too, to bring a change.

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Thank you so much Genemala! We hope you found her story helpful, interesting and inspiring.  If you would like to share your own story, please submit your information and we’ll be in contact soon!

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